Skin care products alone can easily represent up to 20% of an aesthetic practice’s overall revenue, according to Alex Thiersch, J.D., founder and director of the American Med Spa Association (AmSpa) in Chicago.
“The reason for this impressive revenue stream is that these practices emphasize retail,” Thiersch tells The Aesthetic Channel. “Unfortunately, particularly among plastic surgeons, the clinician’s value proposition is surgery, so they do not necessarily spend the time, or bring someone aboard to spend the time, to focus on retail.”
Thiersch observes that successful practices use skin care to increase the credibility of their business; for example, services like a facelift or laser resurfacing are improved by using the correct skin care products.
“You do not want a client leaving the office and ruining your procedure by not using proper skin care,” Thiersch says. “Your philosophy should not be that you are selling skin care for money. It should be that you are protecting your investment in your patients and ensuring that they achieve the best result possible when they come to see you.”
Skin Care Line Development
Stocking an established skin care brand versus a practice’s own brand is perhaps the biggest consideration. “Many plastic surgeons like to have their name on their skin care line,” Thiersch notes. “Obviously, there is great branding by having a company formulate your own product line. It is also specific to you, so the patient needs to return to you to repurchase a product. Overall, having your own product makes it very easy to sell.”
The downside, though, is the time and cost required to develop one’s own product brand. “You also need to have a person onboard to answer questions about the product or if issues arise about restocking or returns,” Thiersch says.
On the other hand, an advantage of carrying a national branded skin care line is that there is ready access to product reviews. “You can get patients from other practices and other parts of the country to extol the benefits of the product,” Thiersch explains. “There are also more resources for marketing and branding, including likely support on the corporate side from the skin care line itself to help get the product out there.”
Other considerations include:
Can the skin care brand(s) can be purchased online?
A benefit of in-office sales only is that it forces patients to return to the practice, during which time they might sign up for other services as well.
Are products efficacious?
“You need to find out what actual research has been done on a product to support what the manufacturer claims,” Thiersch says. “Ask a lot of questions and secure references. A skin care line that cannot show proof of efficacy is obviously a red flag.”
How good is customer support?
Evaluating customer service for marketing support in helping with events and bringing patients into the office is key. “You can have all this skin care on the shelves, but at the end of the day you need to sell it,” Thiersch states. “What does the skin care line do to help train your staff to help sell products? Does the company provide detailed information on the actual science behind the skin care?”
Knowledge and expertise about the skin care line has to be passed on to the clinicians and the front desk staff, so they can pass it on to the client. “This is not always easy to accomplish,” Thiersch says. “It requires concise and easy-to-understand language.”
How Many and How Much?
Practices should stock two or three skin care lines, with one of them being primary and comprehensive, followed by a secondary line so patients have a choice. “People do not like to be forced into something,” Thiersch says. A third line is for specialized products.
“By stocking more than three skin care lines, the patient will have sensory overload,” Thiersch says. “You do not want people confused.”
Some variable in pricing is also recommended. “However, if someone is paying $10,000 for a facelift, it should not be much of a consideration if a product sells for $85 or $100,” Thiersch relates.
More germane is for the practice to stand behind its products. “Therefore, it is important that the staff is using the skin care themselves,” Thiersch says. “The staff can then let the patient know that it is great. You have to transform your entire attitude around the fact that you are selling retail. In fact, there are practices that are doing nearly dollar for dollar retail sales to their medical sales.”
Another advantage of retail is that once it is stocked, “there is no labor cost,” Thiersch says. “It just kind of sells itself. And the mark-ups are good. In essence, there is a lot of free money that is just sitting there.”